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Jean Bashes Microsoft For Ending Support For Windows XP In 2008
I read your "Top Question and Answer" section today. Gary asked about "Windows Vista" and the information in your E-book CD regarding it -vs.- Windows XP. I read where Microsoft plans to stop support for "Windows XP" in the mid to latter part of 2008. Is it true that Microsoft has already made this decision, forcing the public to upgrade once more at their own cost?

Our Answer
Based on current information available from Microsoft and those "in the know" -and our own guesswork - we estimate Windows XP Mainstream Support will end in late December 2008, with Extended Support ending approximately 4 to 5 years after that We could be wrong and only Microsoft really knows and possibly they don't even know yet. They extended Windows 98/ME support well beyond their original "rigid" guidelines and far more businesses are using Windows XP (especially professional) than were using Windows 98/ME at the end of its cycle. This bodes well for all of you who intend to stick with Windows XP for a year or two after the release of Vista.

What's the difference between Mainstream and Extended support? Well, they are virtually identical,. Both will carry security updates, service packs, online support, and the additional availability of paid support. However when Extended Support phase begins that means that hotfixes which are not related to security will not be available unless you pay for them (paid support).  Also, Microsoft will not add any new features or updates to Windows XP - and they will not issue any further Service Packs.

Sometimes we have to stick up for Microsoft in these instances. There are (unfortunately) hundreds of thousands of people out there using Norton and McAfee security suites. At regular retail prices it costs these people $69.95 to buy Norton Internet Security (for example). Each year they merrily (I don't know how merrily) pay Norton a ransom for $49 to $59 just to ensure their system is protected and the software for which they already shelled out nearly $70.00 for will work. But, Microsoft does not charge an annual ransom fee. They provide security updates, operating system upgrades, service packs, etc. completely free for the life-cycle of the operating system. And, good thing too! Can you imagine the outcry if MS charged for updates or you couldn't use your computer. Yet, Symantec and Norton essentially do this and folks say nary a word.

We submit to you that your computer can get along quite well (and our opinion is it would get along much better) without McAfee or Norton, but it could not get along very well without Windows; unless of course you choose to use a Mac (and be limited to a comparatively small number of applications) or Linux where the learning curve, for most Windows users, is particularly steep.

Yet we don't ever see anyone complaining about Norton (Symantec) or McAfee extorting them annually. Think about it. Windows XP came out in 2001. If Microsoft did end all support in December 2008 (which they will not) - then those who purchased the Windows XP upgrade CD paid $100.00 total in seven years; Windows keeps working. And every year for all those years, MS gave all its Windows XP users all updates, security patches, service packs, fixes, and enhancements free.

Now, if that same person had the misfortune of purchasing Norton in 2001, by 2008 they would have paid Symantec $70.00 for the program in the first place (regular retail) and also paid six $49 (or higher) annual "subscription fees" to ensure the program would keep working and kept "protecting" them. Do the math: 6 x $49=$294.00 plus the cost of the original program $70.00. If the ransom is not paid, the program ceases to function - the computer is not protected - and if Symantec thereby holds you hostage: Norton users paid Symantec approximately $364.00 (over seven years) just for the privilege of using software that slows most computers to a crawl and ceases to function at all if the "subscription fee" is not paid every year. You pay more for Norton or McAfee over a seven year time span, than you do for the operating system that everyone seems to love to hate - but uses anyway. It makes no sense to me that people to bash Microsoft about dropping free support for a product after seven or eight years. In computer terms, seven or eight years is a long, long time.

People complain when Microsoft charges $100-$140.00 for an operating system upgrade (Vista will be available in several different versions at several different prices) but then also supports that operating system free for seven, eight years or more years. Right is right and whether Microsoft is a multi-gazillion dollar company or not, supporting a $100.00 operating system free for seven or eight years seems fair to us -especially in light of the practices of companies like McAfee and Norton and others who are by no means "small" companies.

Now, I know it's really cool to bash Microsoft. And we're going to be besieged with letters calling us "Microsoft Lovers" and "Bill's babies", however right is right and truth is truth. If Microsoft did something we found offensive or wrong, we'd call them on it. In fact, we have done so in the past and will do so in the future whenever we believe they're wrong.

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